The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in October, 2009

Not enough personal injuries occuring

By on Oct 19, 2009 | 0 comments

The following letter was published in the latest edition of the Law Gazette: “Rhonwen Barraclough’s letter (8 October) complained about Lord Justice Jackson’s recent suggestion of increasing the small claims limit if a deal cannot be done on fixing legal costs in fast-track claims.  Among the various reasons put forward as to why this was a bad thing, the most desperate was: ‘There is also the prospect of losing even more high street practices, given the constant onslaught from professional indemnity insurance and farcical legal aid rates. Like it or not, personal injury is big business, with the majority of fee income going back into the economy in the form of taxes, VAT, wages and to other associated businesses. Has the practical impact of the reforms been considered in that context at all? Can the government really afford to lose the revenues generated by PI?’ Criminal behaviour is big business, keeping employed criminal lawyers, police, prison offices, security firms and so on, and generating various taxes as a result.  However, one would have to be going it some to argue that the government should be very cautious about trying to reduce crime. What next?  The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers campaigning for more dangerous driving, unsafe work practices and more potholes in an effort to bail the government out of its current financial difficulties? Forget high street practices, what about your average poor costs consultant if fixed fees are introduced? Now that is serious. Simon Gibbs, Partner, Gibbs Wyatt Stone (defendant costs consultants),...

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Manchester Legal Sponsored Walk

By on Oct 16, 2009 | 0 comments

The New Law Journal recently reported on nearly 400 lawyers, legal professionals and friends taking part in the 10k Manchester Legal Sponsored Walk and raising a very respectable £20,000 for charity.  This works out at £50 per person taking part. Let’s assume it takes an average of 2 hours to complete a 10km walk.  Let’s then allow another hour to get to and from the route of the walk.  Let’s also assume that each person taking part in the walk spent an hour going around their office signing up sponsors and then collecting the money.  In turn, an hour of their colleagues’ time would have been taken up being signed up and paying the sponsorship money.  Even if we assume that no training was done for the event, and if we ignore the time taken organising the event, approximately 5 hours of time would have been spent for each £50 raised.  That is an hourly rate of £10.  The current Guideline Hourly Rate for a Grade C fee earner in Central Manchester is £158. Obviously, this type of charitable event is not simply about raising money (it’s also about raising awareness of important charities, building a sense of community, having a fun day out, etc) but it does make one wonder what a lawyer’s time is really...

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Notification of funding – The New Rules

By on Oct 14, 2009 | 1 comment

In a previous posting (read here) I discussed the old rules relating to providing information about the funding of a claim.  The latest update to the Civil Procedure Rules has made important amendments which came into force on 1st October 2009.   The old CPR 44.3B read:   “(1) A party may not recover as an additional liability –   (c) any additional liability for any period in the proceedings during which he failed to provide information about a funding arrangement in accordance with a rule, practice direction or court order”   The new wording of CPR 44.3B is:   “(1) Unless the court orders otherwise, a party may not recover as an additional liability –   (c) any additional liability for any period during which that party failed to provide information about a funding arrangement in accordance with a rule, practice direction or court order;   …   (e) any insurance premium where that party has failed to provide information about the insurance policy in question by the time required by a rule, practice direction or court order.   (Paragraph 9.3 of the Practice Direction (Pre-Action Conduct) provides that a party must inform any other party as soon as possible about a funding arrangement entered into before the start of proceedings.)”   These changes fall into four categories:   1.      The wording “in the proceedings” is deleted and the reference to the new wording of the Practice Direction (Pre Action Conduct) makes it clear that notice must now be given pre-proceedings.   2.      The insurance premium provision deals with the consequence of not giving the information discussed below.   3.      The addition of the new wording “unless the court orders otherwise” is perhaps surprising. It was previously clear that failure to comply with the notification provision produced an automatic sanction in that the additional liability was not recoverable (in the absence of a successful application for relief from sanctions).  It now appears to be in the general discretion of the court as to whether to allow the additional liability despite the breach, although the starting point is obviously non-recoverability.  What is strange is that the new wording is followed by the same note that previously appeared: “Rule 3.9...

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Closure of the Supreme Court Costs Office

By on Oct 12, 2009 | 0 comments

I regret to have to announce the closure of the Supreme Court Costs Office (SCCO).  Actually, I’m exaggerating somewhat.  With the creation of the new Supreme Court, the SCCO has been renamed the Senior Courts Costs Office.  The updated CPR uses the shorter term "Costs Office". The original name made it sound like a chicken dish and the new name makes it sound like a pensioner.  At least the acronym remains the same.  Any suggestions for a better...

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The Legal Costs Blog – Who reads this rubbish?

By on Oct 9, 2009 | 2 comments

Contrary to all logic and common sense, the Legal Costs Blog appears to have acquired a not insignificant readership. The Solicitors Journal, aimed not just at solicitors but lawyers generally, claims that its website attracts over 34,000 users a month. Insurance Times, aimed at the whole insurance industry, claims over 45,000 users per month. Both websites have excellent and comprehensive content. The Gibbs Wyatt Stone website attracts over 12,000 users per month. The majority of this traffic is attracted to the Legal Costs Blog pages. Gibbs Wyatt Stone are a niche firm operating in a niche area of the law. These figures suggest one of two things. First, it may be that the figures quoted by the Solicitors Journal and Insurance Times are not as impressive as they first appear. Alternatively, the Legal Costs Blog is attracting a surprisingly high readership given the nature of its content. I’ll leave readers to make up their own minds as to which of these it is. It can safely be assumed that a large proportion of the readership are those who work within the English legal costs world. However, it appears that this blog has a wider reach. We have one subscriber from the High Court in Anguilla in the Caribbean. The other week I was contacted by a charming chap from the Czech Republic asking for book recommendations on the subject of legal costs as this was his “hobby” (and I thought I was the only one). A comment recently added to one of my previous posts concerning the Jackson Costs Review complained that this was “a most biased defendant based blog”. Well, yes. That’s the point. Unfortunately, the comment was posted anonymously and so we will never know who expressed that view (although I’m sure there are plenty who share it). Strangely, a specialist costs barrister who had recently seen the blog suggested I should consider “making it more overtly for defendants”. Goodness knows how some people would react if I did make it more defendant leaning. On a related topic, it has recently been reported that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (whose publications include The Sun and The Times) is set to start charging online customers for news content across...

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